Published On: Sun, May 10th, 2015

Your neighborhood can have an effect your weight

Moving to a Poor Neighborhood Can Cause Weight Gain, according to a new study



The Research used data taken from over 3, 000 Dallas County residents aged 18-65 years; 1, 835 participants completed a detailed survey. The study found that people who moved to more socioeconomically depressed neighborhoods gained weight.

To reach these findings, the residents were asked about their impressions of their neighborhoods. Among those queried, 263 people moved to a neighborhood with a higher index, 586 moved to a lower-index neighborhood and 47 people moved to a neighborhood that had the same rating. Everyone else stayed in their neighborhood.

The people who moved to the higher-index neighborhoods—the ones more deprived of resources—gained more weight compared to the people who moved to a neighborhood that had the same or lower index. For every 1-unit increase in the index, residents gained about 1.41 pounds. Of the people who moved to a more deprived neighborhood, the longer they stayed there, the larger the impact on their weight.

More research is needed before the study’s authors can definitively explain the link, but they had a few speculations. The makeup of a more deprived neighborhood can encourage consumption of unhealthy foods or make it hard to stay fit, they say. Research has also linked changes in stress hormones to living in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that living environments can encourage obesity and interfere with an unhealthy lifestyle; a lack of sidewalks and safe parks, a glut of fast-food restaurants with little access to fruits and vegetables, heavy food advertising and long work hours of residents all contribute. Prior research has shown that kids who live in places where they can walk to school or libraries were significantly less likely to be obese. And a 2011 study found that families who moved to less-impoverished neighborhoods had lower levels of obesity and diabetes compared to families who stayed in their original neighborhood.

The study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, underlines the fact that living environments can have a great impact on body size and health. “Addressing neighborhood deprivation as a risk factor for obesity and obesity-related cardiovascular disease requires consideration of public policy that can address sources of deprivation, ” the study authors conclude.



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